At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Birthday Boy

Today we will make shrimp paprika on request. We have a German chocolate cake already prepared. All because of something that occurred sixteen years ago today.

On the morning of December 15, 1997, I was putting my Ethics and Worldviews exams in my briefcase for the drive up to Westminster Christian Academy in Opelousas, Louisiana. Christy's was going to be induced the next day, so I thought my firstborn would be sharing a birthday with Ludwig van Beethoven. It was then that Christy called out for me in our smallish Lafayette apartment on Pont des Mouton Road.

Find someone else to take the exams to school and proctor them, was her message. From her feel of what was going on, our firstborn was going to crash the party a day early.

Thus followed a flurry of activity: getting the music teacher (who lived nearby) to transport my exams to school, confirming backup so other teachers could proctor the exams, getting Christy into the car, and navigating our way down to Lafayette General Medical Center. We were there by 8 a.m. On the way, I stopped at a red light, stared at the steering wheel, and said to no one in particular, "Oh my gosh, I'm going to be a father by the end of the day."

The fact that I was getting a son was not what overwhelmed me. It was the fact that my son was getting me as a father.

But I digress. The day plugged along, with Christy getting the battery of getting her water bag punctured, a pitocin IV drip, an epidural in the early afternoon, and non-stop ice chips. The way she fought through the pain was staggeringly incredible.

My parents drove down from Mississippi that day, arriving early afternoon to be there in plenty of time for the arrival of their first grandchild. It seemed to take forever for all the stars of delivery to align, but after dinnertime, Dr. Bourque (yes, I chose my wife's OB/GYN on the basis that his last name matched that of former NHL All-Star Raymond Bourque) said we were ready.

I'll spare you the details, but the short story is we had to switch to an emergency C-section. They gave Christy some more drugs for the pain and got to work. At 10:18 pm, Dr. Bourque lifted a six-pound, eleven-ounce, twenty-and-one-quarter inch floppy bundle from my wife's interior. Joshua Cameron Davis, meet the world.

It was then we learned (as Soren Kierkegaard wisely said, life is lived forward but understood backward) we were not at a finish line but a starting line. Joshua opened his mouth to cry and gave all the effort he could, but no sound came out. His limbs dangled like bratwursts from paper clips as his rib cage expanded and contracted in a furious quest for oxygen. Eventually, he stabilized, but it was clear there was something amiss.

Over the coming months and years, we spent a lot of time and energy going down various medical paths. Muscle biopsies revealed Joshua was afflicted with X-linked myotubular myopathy, and while we have often questioned why this was part of the big divine picture, we have also connected with other families whose boys are afflicted as well, searching for a common Holy Grail, a cure that is coming within reach.

More than anything, we received a son who has fought through more physical issues than I can imagine. One who nearly died six years ago after spinal fusion surgery but bounced back, despite doctors who felt we should "accept the inevitable". One who bravely made the call to be re-trached nearly five years ago so he could breathe and rehab better. He is the inspiration for the hero in my Cameron Ballack mystery series. An intense video game player, an inquisitive reader, and a never-ending dreamer (he still maintains he will switch citizenship and try out for Germany's national soccer team when he is cured and is able to walk again). 

Yes, a difficult life. But it's been sixteen years of wonderful all the same. Happy birthday to Joshua, our son.

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